- May 9, 2008
- Reaction score
- behind enemy lines
Cronulla wants Nikau for start of season
SANDERS, Andrew. Sunday Star - Times. Wellington, New Zealand: Feb 4, 1996. pg. B.5
THE Cronulla Sharks are confident Kiwi Tawera Nikau will be at the club for the start of the Super League season, though whether he plays against the Auckland Warriors on Friday night is still unclear.
The loose forward is contracted to English first division club Castleford until June and the Sharks are currently negotiating to buy out the balance of his contract.
Shane Richardson, the general manager of the Cronulla football club, is confident a deal will be reached but is wary of treading on any toes in England.
A number of factors would have to coincide for Nikau to take the field at Ericsson Stadium.
The release would have to come through from Castleford and the club would have to lose its match against St Helens this weekend. If it doesn't it will have one more game before the season ends.
Richardson indicated the Sharks would also be leaving the decision on whether Nikau fronted against the Warriors to the player. He has been named in the squad to travel to New Zealand but the club is aware he has already played back-to-back seasons.
When he joined the Sharks from England last year, Nikau played for his new club against the Warriors within a couple of days of stepping off the plane.
"He is so keen about his football," Richardson said.
"If he wants to play, he will."
Cronulla is also conscious it only has two warmup games with the second being against the North Queensland Cowboys in Western Samoa on February 17.
Nikau was a big loss to New Zealand rugby league when he made himself unavailable last year and Richardson is pleased to have secured the rangy forward's services.
While Andrew Ettingshausen captains the side, Nikau is viewed as the forward leader.
From the Warriors' point of view, there will be much interest in the performances of rugby recruits Marc Ellis and Mark Carter as they come off the bench, and whether John Kirwan is tried in the centres by coach John Monie.
The Warriors have also talked of playing Tea Ropati, normally a centre, at loose forward.
AUCKLAND WARRIORS: Gene Ngamu, Sean Hoppe, Tea Ropati, Richard Blackmore, John Kirwan, Greg Alexander, Stacey Jones, Joe Vagana, Syd Eru, Andy Platt, Steve Kearney, Denis Betts, Tony Tuimavave.
Reserves: Mark Carter, Tony Tatupu, Phil Blake, Marc Ellis, Mark Horo, Aaron Whittaker, Hitro Oksene.
CRONULLA SHARKS: (possible starting lineup) Ben Sammut, Alan Bateman, Andrew Ettingshausen, Paul Donaghy, Richard Barnett, Mitch Healey, Danny Lee, Paul Fisher, Les Davidson, Craig Greenhill, Sean Ryan and Tawera Nikau.